TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Department of Transportation has committed another $155 million for improvements to US 93 over the next five years, after having invested more than half a billion dollars over the past 20 years to turn the primary route between Phoenix and Las Vegas into a modern four-lane divided highway.
"ADOT has spent years investing in the future Interstate 11 and laying the foundation for this border-to-border highway," ADOT Director John Halikowski said in a recent news release. "We're putting the pieces together today for what I-11 will be in the future. These substantial and continuing investments show our commitment to a corridor that is essential for commercial and recreational travel and also to making Arizona a better place to live and work."
All of this is with an eye toward an I-11 between the two largest cities in the country that are not directly connected by an interstate freeway and spanning the state from the border with Mexico to Hoover Dam. Since 2014, signs have marked US 93 in Arizona as the "Future I-11 Corridor."
In addition to the completed and planned improvements to US 93, a $134 million ADOT project, slated to begin in 2019, will upgrade State Route 189, the 3.75-mile highway in Nogales that connects Interstate 19 with the Mariposa Port of Entry, a route that is essential to trade between AZ and the state's largest international trading partner - Mexico.
In 2015, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, formally designated I-11 throughout Arizona. It stated that the I-11 corridor will generally follow SR 189 and I-19 from Nogales to Tucson, I-10 from Tucson to Phoenix, and US 93 from Wickenburg to the Nevada state line.
While this designation does not include funding, it identifies I-11 as a high-priority corridor that is eligible for federal funding. ADOT continues to work with its federal, state and local partners to identify funding for I-11, which is expected to include a combination of new and existing roadways.
ADOT is currently funding and conducting an environmental study to identify a potential 2,000-foot wide corridor for I-11 between Nogales and Wickenburg. The Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, required by the National Environmental Policy Act, is expected to be complete in late 2019 or early 2020. Tier 2 environmental studies would be required to narrow a corridor into a specific freeway alignment if the build option is selected as part of the Tier 1 study.
As I-11 comes closer to reality in AZ, US 93 would be upgraded to interstate highway standards, including creating traffic interchanges.
Currently all but 39 miles of the 200-mile drive from Wickenburg to the Nevada state line has been upgraded to a four-lane divided highway to improve traffic flow, support the movement of freight and enhance safety through this heavily traveled area. The entire northern segment of US 93 from Kingman to the Nevada state line (mileposts 1 to 68) is now a four-lane divided highway following the completion of a $71 million project in 2010.
ADOT's 2019-2023 Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program includes more than $155 million dedicated to projects to improve US 93 from Wickenburg to the Nevada state line north of Kingman, the designated route of I-11. This includes three projects that will widen an additional 11 miles of US 93 to four-lane divided highway and the start of right-of-way acquisition for a new US 93 interchange with I-40 in Kingman.
"Interstate freeways are Arizona's Key Commerce Corridors, the foundation moving commerce and connecting friends and families," Halikowski said. "To remain competitive in the ever-evolving global marketplace, our transportation infrastructure must advance with our state's needs. That's what's behind ADOT's ongoing commitment to advancing US 93 and the concept of Interstate 11."
For more information about I-11 in Arizona, visit i11study.com/Arizona.